Awhile back an e-mail arrived from Jan Coyle, who runs a local guided-hiking service called Pacific Pathways, which specializes in trips to New Zealand and Australia. She had a few folks back out of an upcoming trip, so she asked me if I’d be willing to place an ad here to help fill out the group. Being the ardent capitalist and astute operator that I am, I dawdled for two weeks before getting around to saying “sure, let’s go for it.”

So, Jan’s ad will be over there on the left-hand side of the page for the next few months. I’ve never traveled on one of Jan’s tours, nor have I done any comparison shopping for better deals or more interesting itineraries (google “New Zealand Hiking” to get an idea of how many options there are — it’s a pretty crowded space).

Guided tours of these kinds — she takes up to a dozen people along, typically — are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination (the way I look at it, if you’re fretting over the price, you can’t afford it), but the small-group dynamic offers something you can’t get in a larger tour group (for good or ill, depending on who comes along).

I’m hoping that if I can find a few more local sponsors I can ditch the Google ads, which pay a pittance and only occasionally deliver ads that target the interests of Bay Area hikers. I’d much rather help out local businesses run by people who do things like sending me e-mails asking if I’d let them give me money in exchange for a few words and a link from my homepage.